But, then again, understanding may come quicker through comparisons to dieting and to our roots in nomadic clans.

Desiring fats and sugars isn't necessarily a bad thing, says Steel. In the hunter-gatherer societies that fashioned us, if people had a chance to gorge, they took it, knowing their very survival could depend on it. But with food more and more available, that button's been pushed too many times, and obesity has become a standard, everyday reality.

Just as eating too much is more likely to become a bad habit when there's access to more and more food, so does the tendency to waste time grow when there's access to more and more distractions.

"Procrastinators tend to be impulsive, focused on the here and now," says Steel. As a result, they reach for the handiest way to kill time, and doing anything slides inevitably to the deadline.

 "Undisciplined, vulgar, stubborn, wicked, malicious, lazy, depressed, and procrastinating; such an agent is called a Taamasika agent."

- Krishna, from the Bhagavad Gita

Joseph Ferrari, PhD, a professor of psychology at DePaul University, also has firsthand knowledge of the lazy, depressed, and procrastinating. "If there's a free keg of beer in the dorm, they're there," he says, citing that 70 percent of students describe themselves as procrastinators.
 
Everybody puts something off, he adds, but one in every four Americans is a chronic procrastinator. "They delay RSVP'ing, delay getting gas in the car, wait until they get the third bill to pay [it]. For Christmas, they wait until the 24th of December to shop.